I was diagnosed with Depression at the age of 24 at a time when I was at Law School and was striving to get the job of my dreams in the City. It was at this already strained time that my family life also became quite rocky and I finally went to see my GP at the insistence of my mother, however I was convinced that I just felt miserable so couldn’t see how it was a medical issue. To my surprise and relief, the GP heard me out and declared that I wasn’t “terminally chronically miserable and weepy”, rather I was suffering from depression. I had a textbook case, in fact.
I was encouraged to see a counsellor, which I did on a monthly basis while I completed Law School. During this time I began a relationship, and my life was generally looking better. At the same time as Law School wrapped up, the counsellor told me that she felt that I seemed much better and no longer needed her help. I agreed wholeheartedly.
My personal problems had meant that I had thrown myself into my books to take my mind off things, and as a result, after months of interviews, I did achieve what I thought was the job of my dreams at a city law firm. As soon as this job started, I began to feel the depression creep back, as a result of the constant demands of the new challenging environment, the inability to show any sign of weakness, and the long lonely hours that I had to put in at the office. Close to the beginning of my new role in the law firm, I got engaged. However the next 6 months were very tough in terms of feeling constantly miserable, but pretending to everyone that I was happy. I began to wonder how I could feel so hopeless when to all concerned, I should be overjoyed. I was engaged to a wonderful man, I had a great job in what was considered a glamorous area of a prestigious profession, surely I should be happy?
The more I told myself to try to be happy, the more miserable I became. My work suffered, my relationship suffered and 6 months into the engagement, my fiance and I split up. I felt that he couldn’t possibly be right for me as he had no idea how to handle my depression. What I didn’t realise was how hard he had actually tried, and how hard it must have been to be engaged to me.
Needless to say it was a vicious cycle because as much as the depression had caused me to call off the engagement, the break-up pushed me further into depression. I barely went out, as I was fed up of having to face people who would either look at me pityingly or would ask me how the wedding planning was going, unaware of the split. At this point I went back into counselling at the suggestion of the firm I worked for. My situation had become apparent to them and they were very supportive. I began to see a counsellor once a week and was put on antidepressants.
Months of therapy helped me to recover. I slowly started to put my life back together. I did, however, feel that I needed to make a change to my life. I didn’t feel happy in my job, so 2 years after starting at the firm, I handed in my notice. People were amazed that a girl who had spent years striving to achieve this job that people would give anything for, I was giving it up. However I felt happier than I had in years. I left my job and set up my own business, which was a risky strategy as I would be working alone, but strangely I felt much more isolated in a building with five thousand other employees than I did working alone.
My health improved, my moods improved, my relationships improved. I no longer woke up with a heavy heart and dreaded the day. I don’t think that Law made me depressed, however it definitely was not the environment in which I would be able to recover from the depression I was suffering when I entered the profession. 6 Months after leaving law, I got back together with the man I had been engaged to. I had never stopped loving him, and had realised how hard my depression had been on him too.
I am very keen to tell my story as I feel that it can be of immense help to others. I have felt hopeless, suicidal and as though I must be deranged, however I was just poorly. I was lucky that my illness was spotted and I was encouraged to get help. Like me, there may be many others who think their life seems great, so perhaps their unhappiness is self-invented. What I would like to do is explain that no matter how perfect your life may look, you may be feeling down because of an illness. After all, illness doesn’t discriminate between different people’s situations.
My story brings together a number of factors that people may be able to identify with. I am female, of Asian origin (born and brought up here) and an ex-Lawyer. These groups suffer from high levels of depression, and sadly in the Asian background, mental health issues are still considered taboo, especially those of women.
I would also like people to understand the toll that Depression can take on relationships, and perhaps highlight the plight faced by those who are in relationships with someone who is depressed. I was lucky that I managed to resurrect mu engagement, however others may not be so lucky. If I could have better understood what my parents and my fiance had gone through, while being around me, I may not have been so harsh to them.
Thank you for taking the time to read what has turned into an essay! If I can be of any help in ANY way, please do get in touch. I would love to help someone, as I feel that if just one person can benefit from hearing my story, that is one less person who is suffering.
Thanks so much,